How to Import Photos From an iPhone to a Mac

Use a cable or not, it's up to you

What to Know

  • Use AirDrop to import photos by tapping the photo > arrow > AirDrop.
  • Using iCloud: Sign in to your account and click Photos > select image and click the cloud icon on the top right-hand corner to download the image.
  • If you have iCloud disabled, you can plug your iPhone into your Mac via a USB cable. 

This article teaches you how to import photos from iPhone to Mac via AirDrop, USB, and other methods. It also explains what to do if you have any issues.

What Is the Fastest Way to Transfer Photos From iPhone to Mac?

The fastest way to transfer your photos between iPhone and Mac is to use AirDrop—a feature designed to make it easy to share files between your Mac and iPhone. It works through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to create a secure local link between the two systems.   

How Do I Transfer Photos From iPhone to Mac Without USB?

As mentioned, the best way to transfer photos from iPhone to Mac without USB is to use AirDrop. Here's how to move the photos across.

  1. Tap Photos.

  2. Tap the image you wish to transfer.

  3. Tap the arrow on the bottom left-hand side.

  4. Tap AirDrop.

  5. Tap your Device Name then wait for a moment for the file to transfer across.

    Steps involved to transfer files between iPhone and Mac using AirDrop
  6. Tap Done.

How to Transfer Photos From iPhone to Mac Using iCloud

Assuming you have iCloud set up on your iPhone, it's easy to view your photos online using iCloud. Here's what to do.

  1. On your Mac, use a web browser to go to and sign-in.

  2. Click Photos. with Photos icon highlighted
  3. Scroll through your photos within the web browser.

  4. Click the image you wish to transfer. photos with a photo highlighted
  5. Click the cloud icon on the top right-hand corner to download the image. with a photo selected and the cloud download icon button highlighted
  6. The file is now downloaded to your Downloads folder.

    You may need to click Allow on your web browser to allow the download to occur.

How to Transfer Photos From iPhone to Mac Using USB

You can still connect your Mac to your iPhone via a USB to Lightning cable. Keep in mind; this isn't the most efficient method. Here's what to do.

It's only possible to use this method if you have iCloud disabled on your iPhone. 

  1. Plug your iPhone into your Mac via its charging cable.

    Recent Macs generally only have USB-C type connectors, so you might need an adapter if you haven't bought a new iPhone recently.

  2. Click Finder.

    MacOS desktop screen with Finder highlighted
  3. Scroll down to Locations and click iPhone.

    If you don't see your iPhone listed, you may be using an older version of macOS. You'll need to use iTunes to follow the remaining steps for transferring photos using a USB cable. If your phone is too new for iTunes on Mac, you may need to update your Mac to support the newer phone.

    MacOS Finder with an iPhone highlighted
  4. Click Trust.

  5. Tap Trust on your iPhone then enter your PIN code.

  6. Click Photos

    MacOS Finder window with an iPhone open and Photos tab highlighted
  7. Browse and move the files from here. 

Why Won't My Photos Import From iPhone to Mac?

If your files don't transfer between your iPhone and Mac, there can be a few different reasons for this. Here's a quick look at the fundamental problems that can arise.

  • You haven't set up AirDrop on one or more devices. If you're trying to use AirDrop to transfer photos and either your Mac or iPhone isn't responding correctly, you might not have enabled AirDrop. Enable it and try it again. 
  • You didn't set up iCloud. If you haven't set up iCloud across your devices, you can't view your files from your web browser. Set it up again. 
  • Some photos aren't viewable on iCloud. Are your most recent images not on iCloud? Make sure your iPhone has a data or internet connection and that it has sufficient charge to upload new files to iCloud. 
  • Your Mac won't recognize your iPhone. Make sure you've plugged in the USB cable correctly and that both devices are updated. 

If you want this to all happen automatically, consider using iCloud Photo Library. It works the same on your iPhone as it does an iPad.

  • How can I export photos from an iPhone to Windows 10?

    To export photos from your iPhone to Windows 10 or 8, install iTunes on your PC. Connect your iPhone to your PC with a USB cable to begin photo transfer.

  • How do I export photos from an iPhone to an external hard drive?

    Just like transferring other types of files, photos can be exported using a Lightning cable or a USB connector. You can export your photos to your choice of external drive whether it's a memory stick or other peripheral. This works for both the iPhone and iPad.

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